NEW YORK (CNN) -- CNN Money's Maribel Aber has your top business and financial news on this Thursday, August 1.
Congress OKs cheaper student loans
The House on Wednesday approved a bipartisan that ensures lower interest rates on loans for students heading to college this fall. Members of the House voted 392 to 31 to lower rates for undergraduates taking out government loans this school year to 3.86% -- cheaper than the 6.8% interest rate that kicked in on July 1. The new rates would be retroactive and apply to loans taken out after July 1.
Federal Reserve signals cautious optimism about U.S. economy
You'll have to wait longer if you want more clues about when the Federal Reserve plans to wind down its stimulus efforts. The Federal Reserve wrapped up a two-day meeting Wednesday with small tweaks to its policy statement, but its overall outlook for the economy seems little changed. The Fed characterized recent economic growth as "modest," but noted that it expects "economic growth will pick up from its recent pace." The central bank also noted that mortgage rates have been rising and inflation may be too low. The Fed usually aims to keep inflation around 2% a year, but recently it has hovered around 1%.
The Social Security mistake that costs retirees thousands
After decades of paying into the Social Security system, many retirees are eager to start collecting that monthly check as soon as possible. But that can be a costly mistake. While you're allowed to start claiming Social Security benefits at age 62, holding off for several years can add thousands of dollars to your payments over a lifetime. That's because you don't qualify for all of your earned benefits until you reach "full retirement age," which is 66 for most Baby Boomers and 67 for those born in 1960 or later. So checks claimed at age 62 are about 25% smaller than if you wait until your full retirement age. And if you wait even longer, your annual benefits will grow by another 8% for each year you wait up to age 70.
Top 10 consumer complaints
Shady auto dealers, shoddy construction work and incessant debt collectors were once again among the most common targets of consumer gripes last year. Towing disputes and feuds between landlords and tenants were the two fasting growing complaints, while mortgage assistance scams and door-to-door meat sales were new problems on the list, according to the Consumer Federation of America's annual report. The list, released Wednesday, is the result of survey responses from 40 state and local consumer protection agencies in 20 states. The complaints come as budget cuts and limited resources continue to squeeze the agencies, which fielded more than 350,000 complaints collectively last year, according to the report.